IPM Tools and Trials

As we’ve discussed here previously, monitoring for pests with sticky traps is an important routine for integrated pest management (IPM) in museums. Unfortunately, a great deal of damage may have already occurred by the time sticky traps show evidence of a heritage-eating pest population. Especially for moths, but in other pest species too, the larvae are the voracious heritage eaters. By the time you see an adult, there are probably numerous eggs lurking and larvae feeding somewhere nearby in the dark.

If adult moths are visible, as they have been in our team’s office cluster, try to pinpoint the area with the highest concentration. That can help you narrow down the source of the infestation. In our case, the preponderance of moths was on the ceiling of one office, so staff members began cleaning out everything in that space. Larvae were all over old NCECHO files in one particular file cabinet. NCSU’s Entomology Extension Service  identified our problem (via this photograph) as an Indian meal moth infestation. Despite the available descriptions of this species as eating grains and other food stuffs, the larvae in our office area thrived on old paper products, with no apparent food around.

Wanting to avoid pesticide sprays, we began a trapping/ killing campaign. This had already begun with our “splat!” swatter, and once we had a definite ID on the species, those in charge of our building could order the appropriate pheromone traps. Because our infestation was in file cabinets, rather than artifact storage, we used Allure traps that attract adult males. If you find an infestation in artifact storage, your problem requires urgent treatment and you should probably consider a newer kind of “moth suppression” trap that includes a female attractant. These are significantly more expensive, but killing female insects is a much more efficient way of treating a pest problem.

After one month of trapping, we replaced the pheromone trap and our need to swat has declined drastically. Though our pest problem persists, there’s hope for a moth-free future.

What IPM tools and methods have been most helpful in your institutions? Have you tried one or both kinds of pheromone traps?

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on October 9, 2012, in cleaning, collections care, collections management, storage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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